Aer Lingus losses increase to Ir 188m pounds: Exceptional costs include loss on GPA stake

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LOSSES at Aer Lingus, the crisis-hit Irish state airline, rose to Ir pounds 188m ( pounds 182.5) after exceptional costs in the year to March, from pounds Ir11.7m the previous year.

Bernie Cahill, chairman, blamed the results on the impact of the failed flotation at GPA - in which the airline holds a stake - excessive costs, declining yields per passenger and the international recession.

He warned that operating losses of Ir pounds 44.7m after tax 'raised serious questions about the future of the group'. Before tax and interest charges the company showed a small profit of Ir pounds 800,000.

The core air transport division lost Ir pounds 22.9m before interest, tax and exceptional items, amid increased competition on transatlantic routes from Heathrow and other UK terminals, which led to a fall of 6 per cent in yields against 1991-92 levels. Profits from airline services fell 26 per cent to Ir pounds 13.3m.

Negotiations are continuing with unions towards achieving an annual Ir pounds 50m reduction in operating costs, split between staff-related costs, economies in the Team aircraft maintenance subsidiary, and non- payroll items.

The EC is insisting the cuts must be in place before it gives approval for an equity injection of Ir pounds 175m from the Irish government. The airline has a debt/equity ratio of 533 per cent, which Mr Cahill described as unsustainable.

Exceptional items in the results included restructuring cost provisions of Ir pounds 99.9m and a Ir pounds 43.9m write-off of the airline's GPA shares. Another GPA-related balance sheet adjustment meant shareholders' funds were reduced by a further Ir pounds 113.5m.